It’s the most used stimulant in the world, and, being a big fan of caffeine, I think it earns its status. Aside from helping most of us get
through the day, when used correctly caffeine has wide-ranging benefits, including in the gym or on the field. So, let’s breakdown what you need to know about how best to utilise the miracle of caffeine.
The ergogenic aid
If you didn’t know, an ergogenic aid is anything that can be taken to enhance athletic performance. Caffeine has been shown to provide an ergogenic response at a dosage of about 3–6 mg/kg body weight, and it is ingested approximately 30 minutes to one hour before exercise. For example, an 80kg man would need to ingest 240mg – 480mg before training to enjoy the benefits of caffeine.
How to consume the right amount of caffeine:
+/-3–6 mg/kg body weight ingested approximately 30 minutes to one hour before exercise
Here is a breakdown of the caffeine content in various products:
- Coca Cola: 30-47 mg
- Red Bull: 80mg
- Monster: 150mg
- Green tea: 24-40 mg
- Coffee (250ml): 95-200 mg
- Espresso: 40-75 mg
In addition to being mentally stimulating, caffeine has been shown to have the following benefits during training:
- Faster reaction time
- Longer periods of exertion
- Increased strength & power (studies are inconclusive on this point)
Stuff you need to know
First and most important, DO NOT CONSUME CAFFEINE BEFORE BEDTIME. Seriously, caffeine has a half life of around five hours. Which means, high levels of consumption close to bedtime is not a great idea if you want eight hours of sleep. Experts recommend holding back on your first intake of caffeine for the day until at least 30 minutes after waking up and to try and cut all caffeine consumption before 11am.
Secondly, with caffeine consumption comes an elevated heart rate. If you are medically predisposed to any heart issues, consult with your physician before chugging those high caffeine content energy drinks.
Thirdly, don’t go over the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Excess caffeine can make you cranky, cause headaches, drowsiness, and even nausea amongst other issues.
Wrapping this up
Use it, love it, believe in it, but consume caffeine appropriately and responsibly. A healthy diet and a good night’s sleep come first, then the Red Bull.
- Goldstein E. R., Ziegenfuss T., Kalman D., Kreider R., Campbell B., Wilborn C., et al.. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 7:5.10.1186/1550-2783-7-5 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
- Stuart, G.R., Hopkins, W.G., Cook, C., Cairns, S.P. (2005) Multiple effects of caffeine on simulated high-intensity team-sport performance. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise 37:1998-05.
- Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C. NASM Essentials of Sports Performance. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010.